How to Create a Good Workout Schedule
Congratulations! You’ve committed to regular workouts and are pumped for all the mental and physical health benefits to come. Taking that first step in committing to a fitness program is a huge hurdle and you deserve props for that! Change isn’t always easy so it’s amazing that you’ve decided to do something positive for yourself!
But good intentions only carry you so far. Creating a workout schedule is the critical next step for your long term success. Why is that? Well, maintaining good intentions is hard and daily life can, and will, get in the way. But commitment means sticking to what you said you would do long after the mood you said it in has left you — and a solid schedule can help!
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF A WORKOUT SCHEDULE?
Some weeks are chill and others are absolutely insane. That’s normal. While life can be unpredictable, it’s important to create a schedule so that you make time to workout, instead of assuming you can find time.
Plus, you’ll get these two main benefits if you create a workout schedule:
Benefit #1: You’re more likely to follow through and stay consistent and accountable.
Think of your workout schedule as meetings you’ve put on the calendar with yourself. You wouldn’t show up late, or be a no show, to a meeting with your boss, right? So why would you skip out on a meeting with the most important person in your life — you!
While there may legitimately be days you can’t fit in your workout, you’re more likely to exercise if you’ve pre-selected days and times that will work for you. And this consistency is what will help you achieve real results.
Workout schedules can also be hugely helpful for new moms, notes Dr. Amy Schultz, PT, DPT, CSCS, and Fit Body Physical Therapist. Workout schedules give moms an opportunity to figure out where their workouts can fit into an already slammed schedule.
Benefit #2: You’ll ensure that you get enough workouts and rest days in.
Without a workout schedule, it can be hard to tell if you’re training enough, or if you’re going too hard! It’s important to note that rest days are just as critical as the days you work up a sweat. Without sufficient rest days, you aren’t giving your body enough time to adjust and repair.
Rest days can also help you perform better during workout days and will help avoid injury, reminds Dr. Schultz. On the flip side, a workout schedule helps you realize if you’re doing enough to actually achieve your fitness goals. A workout schedule will help you safely ramp up exercise load and volume so that you don’t overdo it — especially if you’ve taken a long break from working out.
WHAT ARE THE COMPONENTS OF A GOOD WORKOUT SCHEDULE?
A common workout schedule consists of strength training days, cardio days, and rest days. “A mix of cardio and strength workouts is important as they target different energy systems,” says Dr. Schultz. “Plus, combining the two can help keep workouts fun and different!”
For your strength training sessions, your workout program should provide enough workouts that allow you to hit all major muscle groups. These workouts will help increase muscle mass and “strength,” which Dr. Schultz describes as your ability to lift heavier weights. You’ll burn calories during the strength session, and as you build more muscle over time, you’ll burn more calories at rest.
Meanwhile, cardio raises your heart rate through low to high intensity training. It benefits your heart and lungs and can help burn fat. There are four different types of cardio that you may encounter in your workouts depending on your fitness and mobility level: These are Low Intensity Steady State Cardio (LISS), Low Intensity Medium Intensity Training (LIMIT), Moderate Intensity Steady State Cardio (MISS), and High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).
HOW TO CREATE A WORKOUT SCHEDULE AND GET STARTED
Once you’ve determined which workout program you want to follow, break down how many strength training and cardio workouts you need to do. Then, determine how many rest days you want. Ensure you have at least one rest day per week. You can decide whether you want a day of pure rest or an active recovery day, which includes activities like gentle yoga or a short walk.
If you want more rest days, you can “double up” on your workout sessions. For example, you can combine a strength training workout with a cardio session. However, we don’t recommend you double up on strength training sessions because this puts you at risk of overtraining which could lead to injury. If you’re lifting at the appropriate weight, then you won’t be able to maintain that same effort and add in another strength session due to muscle fatigue, Dr. Schultz explains. You’ll ultimately hinder your performance if you double up on strength sessions and will actually decrease your true muscle strength.
And remember, however you structure your schedule, you need to stick with it for at least 12 weeks. It’s important to track your progress over a long enough period of time to be able to see results.
SCHEDULES FOR FIT BODY APP PROGRAMS:
We know life doesn't always allow you to work out six days a week so we created some example schedules. One of the best parts of the Fit Body App programs is that they can be adjusted to fit with whatever season your life is in.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I DON’T STICK TO MY WORKOUT SCHEDULE?
It’s only human to miss a workout here and there. Whether you got too busy, too tired, or just didn’t feel like it, we’ve all been there. The important thing is not to give up.
If you’ve only missed one workout, just continue on to the next day on your schedule. Even if you’ve missed a few days, you haven’t made a dent in your progress. But you do need to prioritize any strength workouts you’ve missed over cardio sessions. Strength workouts will have the biggest impact on your long term progress.
If you’ve missed at least two weeks of workouts, you may see a decrease in muscle mass and cardiovascular fitness. For these reasons, it’s important to reset your routine and complete the weeks you missed before moving on.
So much of this journey isn’t about staying on track 100% of the time, it’s about creating a routine but also being flexible with that routine. That simply means to adjust, not quit! Life is unpredictable and a good schedule will give you the roadmap you need to make fitness a sustainable part of your lifestyle.
We hope this gives you the tools to feel confident in creating the best possible workout schedule. If you have any questions as a Fit Body app subscriber on modifications, alternatives, or injuries, email the Fit Body Physical Therapist at firstname.lastname@example.org. PT consultations are FREE as part of your Fit Body app membership!